I have more to say later, when I have more time, but really, Craig, do you think this is an argument?
" I haven't heard anything about any new PDP technologies; that makes me think that in a decade or so non-PDP flat panel prices might eventually beat PDP pricing and make PDP obsolete."
Because you haven't heard it matters? There are also no new LCD technologies, just more volume -- allegedly. If printable polymer OLED comes along, it will eat everything in its past. Ditto instead xED displays. But since none of that can be built, we can extrapolate what is reasonably known about TFT-LCD and PDP -- the only two things that exist right now.
I know other things will exist eventually, but I'm not talking about 2010 and beyond. And, no, there simply isn't a chance of another technology taking over until then. Nothing will even begin to be manufactured in volume at the sizes I'm talking about, 40" and up, until 2006. And even then, production will be tiny. There isn't a single moment of history in the display business to suggest something could sweep the market in less than a decade. It took LCD about 15 years to finally eclipse the CRT in PCs.
You seem to argue, "It's gonna be LCD" because I think it is. But every bit of that argument is as uncertain as my argument which, actually, is "It's gonna be LCD and it's gonna be plasma. And in the larger sizes, it's gonne be plasma. And we are talking about this decade. Not some future one."
"May I ask: If it is so cheap to build a PDP factory, could it lead to a "me too" overbuilding euphoria, creating a bad oversupply of PDP's (more than there is demand for) which would then ultimately force smaller PDP mfrs out of business?"
Yes, so what? In the meantime, it would be cheaper to buy PDPs, more would sell, and competing products would be hurt far more. I don't believe, however, that new entrants in PDP will make a whit of difference. Matsushita, Pioneer, Fujitsu-Hitachi, Samsung and LG are going to crush whatever comes into their path (think CPT, for example). The "Big 5" might theoretically exit plasma at some point, but given what they currently have invested and the growth curves in the market, that point is no point soon.
' That doesn't mean they'll be right."
Exactly. Which is what I'm trying to tell people about the alleged LCD revolution that's supposed to be taking over the world.
"There's no need to get defensive about my pointing this out."
It's not that. It's that the overinvestment in LCD has nothing to do with whether they get outsold by plasmas for the next 5 years in the 40" and up category. People seem to get confused about what we're talking about here.
This is a home-theater community first and foremost. While we sometimes discuss small displays, the plasma / LCD discussion is always about 40" and up. There are nearly no plasmas made in the smaller sizes. There >>are<< LCDs made in many smaller sizes. The question we address from time to time is the battleground of 40" to 50" and then the 50" and up segment.
When the world's largest LCD TV maker, Sharp, says they expect to compete with plasma into the 40s but that's it, I think reasonable people would agree that at 50" and up, it's basically plasma for the next several years. From 40" to 50" it's totally plasma now, with LCD entering the market this year.
" On the demand side, in the end consumers will buy the kind of TV that best meets their needs & preferences. If non-PDP flat panel quality/price will improve faster than PDP over the next decade or so, I wouldn't want to be the one of those guys building PDP factories."
What non-PDP flat panels? The only one that exists is TFT-LCD. I've discussed it over and over. I'll keep doing so. I own one. The technology is proven.
If you are talking pie in the sky stuff that isn't out yet, I have said countless times it's all very exciting and could eventually take over. In fact, I doubt there will be any TFT-LCD or PDP production come 2030. None. Much of it may be gone by 2020. If if if if if if if, something better >>and<< cheaper comes allong.
Between now and 2010, however, those two rule the roost. There are no challengers that can meet the forecasted consumer demand -- for flat panels period -- between now and then. It will take 10 million+ units of 40" and up to satisfy the market each year beginning around 2008. There is nothing else.
Oh, and, again, everyone in the industry believes PDPs will be cheaper to build than TFT-LCDs between now and then. They are current cheaper and they are declining in cost about as quickly. All of you that know more than the entire flat-panel industry should go quickly to take over management at those companies.
Note that already the world's two largest LCD makers (panels, not TVs) are the world's two largest PDP makers. They are aggressively investing in both technologies. Obviously, they do not intend to compete with themselves. They are aggressive, but not completely stupid.